Fragrant and nicely priced

Palm Beach wine tasting offers variety and unexpected bargains.


Tucked in among the boutique retail shops of the historic Paramount Building on Palm Beach, one might expect The French Wine Merchant to be full of pricey First Growth Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy. And while French owner Maurice Amiel’s selection does include some of those high-end, blue chip wines, he prides himself on providing a very affordable selection from lesser-known regions and smaller wineries. I love to visit his shop because I always discover something new, and his monthly wine tastings are a great way to test-drive a number of options at one time.

The tastings are held in a pretty courtyard behind his shop and feature a dozen or so selections with hors d’oeurves. The tastings cost $20 per person with discounts for larger groups and on wines purchased that night.

Here are some of my finds from his first tasting of 2014:

Monsieur Touton Bordeaux blanc 2012 ($19.95)

Made from 100 percent sauvignon blanc, the wine has an aromatic nose of ripe grapefruit and lemon with pronounced earth and green bell pepper notes. On palate, it has a light-to-medium body with ripe citrus fruit and earthy flavors and a balance of crisp acidity. The finish is quick, clean and dry.

L’Opale de la Presqu’île de Saint-Tropez rosé 2012 ($19.95)

This dry rosé wine from the Côtes de Provence region in southern France is a blend of grenache, cinsault and carignan. It has a very pale pink color in the glass and a nose of dried strawberry and cherry with an underlying minerality. On palate, the wine is fresh and crisp with tart red fruit and a clean, dry finish.

Domaine les Hauts de Riquets Diablerie 2011 ($19.95)

This blend of 90 percent merlot and 10 percent malbec was my favorite wine of the evening, due to the ripe, aromatic and utterly sighworthy nose. And it got a few extra points for being from an appellation that was new to me: the Côtes de Duras region is between Bordeaux and Cahors, just to the southwest of Bergerac. (I drove through this region during a trip to France in 2011 and didn’t even know it!)

This wine has a beautiful nose of wet dirt, crushed rose petals and ripe, muddled black plum and black cherry. On palate, it is medium-bodied and soft with ripe fruit and earth flavors and a dry finish.

Vinos de Arganza Lagar de Robla Premium 2008 ($16.95)

From the northern Spanish region of Castilla y Leon comes this red made from 100 percent mencía. The wine has a subtle nose of sweet red and black cherries and berries with floral, vanilla and smoky notes. On palate, it’s medium-bodied and smooth with ripe fruit balanced by good acidity and a dry finish. This is an elegant wine at an excellent price point.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

Raclette night: Pistache wants to melt your cheese-loving heart
Raclette night: Pistache wants to melt your cheese-loving heart

Want a super cheesy reason to visit the top French bistro in West Palm Beach? There’s a raclette special Wednesday night.  Not that one needs a copious amount of oozy, melted French cheese to enjoy an evening at Pistache, the stylish bistro that has anchored a prime block of the downtown waterfront for a decade. With a menu that explores...
Lidia Bastianich: From young refugee to cooking star
Lidia Bastianich: From young refugee to cooking star

My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich Knopf. 339 pp. $28.95 --- The title of the first chapter of Lidia Bastianich's new memoir provides the first clue that her memories of childhood are going to include more than idyllic days of climbing fig trees and milking goats. It's "Giuliana," for the name...
Breaded chicken cutlets that can go in (or on) just about anything
Breaded chicken cutlets that can go in (or on) just about anything

It's hard to beat the versatility of a breaded chicken cutlet - on a salad, in a sandwich, over a bed of mashed potatoes. You can't go wrong. The key to evenly cooked, juicy cutlets is using pieces that are thinner than the boneless, skinless chicken breast halves straight out of the package (which often have tenderloins attached, the source of chicken...
Smithfield Foods donates more than 40,000 pounds of protein to FeedMore

In celebration of the spring TOYOTA OWNERS 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race, Smithfield Foods, Inc., and Kroger joined forces at Richmond Raceway over the weekend to donate more than 40,000 pounds of protein to FeedMore, Central Virginia’s core hunger-relief organization. Assisting with the donation was Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield...
Amazon’s critics get new life with Trump’s attacks on the company
Amazon’s critics get new life with Trump’s attacks on the company

One of Amazon’s antagonists seized the moment last month with an unusual newspaper advertisement addressed to President Donald Trump. The ad, from a nonprofit that advocates less government, attacked a Defense Department technology contract that Amazon intends to bid on, calling it a lucrative handout for the company. A top think tank critic...
More Stories